It is about time to wrap up the Sunday series from Life on the Vine that I have been teaching. This past Sunday we talked about Gentleness. What an interesting week it was working through that idea. When is the last time you really thought about gentleness. I am not talking about what the word means in Greek, or how it is exhibited in the character of God. I am talking about looking out onto the landscape of your world and identifying people as gentle.
I started out thinking about people that I would call gentle. Sure, most of us have aspects of gentleness in different areas of our lives, but I am talking about someone who so completely models a specific trait that you would slap a label on them and be done (I know labels are bad, just an illustration...like if you knew that can had corn in it, you could label it corn).
Think about it for a moment. Right now. Pause and just let your mind wonder a little. Who would you call gentle? Why? How have you seen this exhibited in their lives?
Here are three observations that I discovered.
1. Our culture does not uphold this trait. You probably had to search your brain for examples of gentleness in your life. I know tons of terrific people..people who are kind, fun, warm, generous but people can be all that and not always gentle.
2. Unlike other fruit of the spirit or virtue traits, this one has such an intangible quality to it. Patience, joy, peace, kindness, love can all be grasped in a way that is different to gentleness. It seems to be the coming together of a way of being that is evident in a person's words, their touch, their face, their demeanor, their eyes. None of which can be manipulated but follow from a heart that is transformed by Christ.
Now this is random and how my strange brain works.....
3. You will be surprised how many large people will come to mind. When I made my list just about everyone on there was 6.2 or bigger. Fascinating to me....probably only me! Well actually when we talked about it in class and people were sharing their experiences of gentleness it became apparent that others had the same experience. But it does make me wonder if there is something to the gentle giant idea:-) It makes me wonder if sometimes tall, imposing people compensate for their presence by developing a gentle spirit. I am not suggesting all large people are gentle, but we were struck by how many gentle people that came to our minds were tall.
I feel God's call to be conscious of my choices and not saturate my life with violence as entertainment, self promotion, power broking and aggression. If we believe God has the best life for us we must conform our lives to the gentle shepherd and the incarnate Christ is surely the best example of gentleness that we have.
I think of Amy Grant who posts on this blog, Winslow Ellis a friend here in Amarillo, David Wray (friend, professor, mentor), Cathy Burns a friend and counselor, my nephew Matthew - just to name a few people who I think are examples of this fruit to me. I am thankful that I can learn from you.
And ps. all of them tall....just saying! (To me you are tall Amy....no short jokes allowed).
UPDATE: My friend Scott emailed me this and I feel compelled to add this to my blog...not sure how I missed mentioning Phil and Debby! He mentioned several people from the Riverside church of Christ in Coppell where we used to work before Central and yes, all of these are great examples of gentleness.
(from his email) How about Phil & Debby (I know, I know--they're not tall)? Don Barnes. Ken & Laquita. Pete Montgomery.